After seventeen years, Demi-Fiend finds his way back into our hearts, starting with the Conception of the world. Originally released in North America for the PlayStation 2 in 2004, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne aka SMT III became a cult classic known for being unforgiving and a unique story obscured behind an important reason. Now that the world has a new version of SMT III with upgraded graphics, so here’s what we’re working with.
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD begins with you and two friends visiting your ill teacher at the Shinjuku Hospital. After a strange and close encounter with a man who you will learn more about later, the game shortly begins with the Conception of the world, your transformation into the Demi-Fiend, and the beginning of your exploration into a new, now literally spherical world that was once Japan. This new world is in an infant stage, waiting to be shaped by those with strong reasons, strong purpose, and a considerable amount of life force to bring it all to fruition. All of course with some hiccups.
I also want to mention that you are not alone in the new spherical world. The friends that you met in the beginning are here somewhere, and you have the option of convincing demons to join you on your search for your friends and to fight some of your battles. As you traverse the new world, you quickly learn that some of the world’s inhabitants are struggling to survive, devouring the weak, and becoming strong; while others are working towards collecting the life force called Magatsuhi to realize their own vision of the new world.
Various reasons are crucial to the inhabitants of this world: the reason of Yosuga, the reason of Shijima, the reason of Musubi, or Freedom, or…something completely different. Your choices matter and the battles for the Candelabrums play a part in one of the endings. There are five endings, the four reasons mentioned here, and of course the True ending, which will require extra work.
If you’ve already played the original, then you know all the basics and gist of the game, but for those that are just joining in on the fun that is the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, welcome to one of the most unforgiving games in the series. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD is essentially an early 2000s RPG, completely turn-based with the option of adding more turns by exploiting your enemies’ weaknesses. Conversely, if your enemies happen to hit your weaknesses, they receive another turn as well. Exploiting the weaknesses of your enemies is the key to victory in battles.
In addition to fighting demons, you can negotiate with them to either join you, for Macca (the game’s currency), or items. In addition to negotiating with demons, you’re able to fuse demons as well, a very notable feature of the Shin Megami Tensei series. Something else for the newer folks playing an SMT game for the first time, Demi-Fiend is the only one able to use items. So if your demons are charmed and they have a healing ability, you better hope Demi-Fiend’s turn comes before them. All in all, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD is a linear game. Make sure you pay attention to the dialogue since you receive little hints on how to proceed with the negotiations.
However, there are many changes within Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD, but few are most notable! The game is nearly identical except for changes in dialogue and responses, and I compared the choices and the dialogue from the original to this version. Here are the most notable differences!
The first thing you notice are the new, crispy HD graphics of Demi-Fiend and everyone else within the game. The designs, lighting, some detailing on characters and demons have more definition to them. To name a few examples in improved textures and graphics, Demi-Fiend (above) and even Daisouji (below) are some character models that show improvements.
Another large addition to Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD are the voiceovers! There are several Atlus games where there’s no voice acting: Digital Devil Saga, the Raidou Kuzunoha duology, and Persona 2, to name a few. Voiceovers give characters more depth, and it allows us to connect easier with them while we play the game. I wanted to fight some of the characters in the game, and you will know when you see them and their treachery. However, if you’re expecting to have lip syncing included with the voiceovers, don’t. The discrepancy of when a character’s lips are moving and not moving is too large, but overall the voiceovers are super well done!
Now that the rest of the world is getting the canon version of SMT III, it means that we can start to really see how connected the Atlus games are. Of course, there are cameos of characters in the Persona, Catherine, etc. Raidou Kuzunoha, in this case, connects a few different games based on the lore of the entire SMT series. It could be said what Raidou does affects and creates other worlds. Alternatively, the original version of SMT III that North America received included the guest character Dante Sparda. Yes, Dante from the Devil May Cry Series. It seems odd at first, but it fits since Dante hunts demons. Players can purchase DLC to replace Raidou with Dante in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD.
Lastly, the newly added Merciful Difficulty is indeed merciful. I normally beat RPGs at low levels on normal, but Merciful allows the Demi-Fiend and friends to level up quickly. I’ve been able to beat bosses only using the standard attacks with a couple of elemental attacks and heals. Other than that, no issues, nor have I actually died during my playthrough, and that includes the usual death/light skills such as Mudo and Hama skill.
However, beginners to the SMT series will have no problem acclimating into the series if starting from Merciful. Be warned though, it may seem a little easy.
Should you play this? Absolutely. For those that are new to SMT and want to experience the story, play on the Merciful difficulty. If you want a challenge, play normal and adjust as needed. For those deep into the SMT series and missed out on playing this cult classic, now is the time but don’t expect too much from the story, as it did not age as gracefully as hoped. However, with the release of Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne HD Remaster hopefully we’ll see more global releases of the earlier SMT games in the future!
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster Review
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD is a great way to experience the game for newcomers as well as die-hard SMT fans.